Friday, January 16, 2009

CSIRO shifting stand on soil carbon?

A small item but mighty powerful news: The CSIRO is softening its stand against soil carbon trading for Australian farmers. "Soil work a coup for carbon?" read the headline on a report on Dr Clive Kirkby's "trials into storing soil carbon in cropping land [which] may have an impact on the role of grain production in future emissions trading schemes (ETS)." "Dr Kirkby now believed nutrient levels were the key to soil carbon," reports The Land. "If the theory can be proven, it will have an important role in dealing grain production into the carbon trading landscape... Proving that carbon could be stored in stubble paddocks would add a strong argument to croppers becoming involved in ETS plans," says the report. There can be no doubt that the article appears to reverse all previous CSIRO attempts to derail the soil carbon movement.
Dr Kirkby deserves credit for changing his position, quite a shift since he co-authored the now famous GRDC Groundcover article which said that humus would be too costly to grow because of all the nitrogen fertiliser needed to make humus. Nitrogen only comes out of a bag, it was suggested, and worldwide prices for it were too high to make growing humus financially viable. In fact free living bacteria give nitrogen away free. They make it from the air. It's yours free! (Sounds like snake oil? Look it up.)

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